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April 26, 1965

English Medical Humanists: Thomas Linacre and John Caius

JAMA. 1965;192(4):335. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080170063032

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The 16th century, when medieval modes of thought were giving way to modern concepts, was a fascinating period. One phase of this change took the form of a revival of Greek studies. The humanism of the early Renaissance, which held that the most important goal of scholarship was to retrieve the classic Greek models in their original excellence, affected medicine as well as literature. In this early stage the most "modern" medicine looked to the past rather than the future, for it wanted to recover the original work of Galen, in its original purity of doctrine, before it had been distorted by medieval commentators. The original texts, it was thought, would resolve any current problems and furnish the important answers.

In England the humanists included two famous physicians, Thomas Linacre and John Caius. Linacre, classical scholar, traveler, physician, priest (less from piety than from worldliness), friend of Erasmus, was a

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